Striper Report 4/8/20 and a great piece on fishing and social distancing

First, to the ohfer. That’s right, folks, I blanked yesterday at the Mouth of the Hous. On the one hand, I feel like the kicker who misses a chip shot FG in OT. On the other, it’s not like the river was en fuego (fifteen anglers spaced out on both banks where I fished, and I saw two bass landed in nearly three hours of fishing). Not exactly the stuff from which legendary days are created.

The tide was massive and the currents and rips were in full moon form, but for now I’ll hang my hat here: you cannot catch what isn’t there — or doesn’t see your fly. And I made sure they could see my fly.

While the Mouth of the Hous in April is not a place you’d normally go to practice a CDC-Approved space between you and the next person, the number of anglers was eye-opening. This was 70 degrees and sunny Saturday afternoon traffic. Solitude seekers, you will not find your bliss here. Except maybe today or Friday when the winds are supposed to be in the 20s with gusts to 40mph. (Thanks, I’ll pass.)

I can see it. You can see it. But if there are no bass to see it…

Rod-Fly-Grey

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Second, here’s a terrific read from Joe Cermele: Don’t Blow This for the Rest of Us: How We Keep Hunting and Fishing During the Pandemic.  Joe was my editor at Field & Stream, and this article is worthy of your time.

Please stay safe and healthy, and thanks for reading.

Farmington River Report 4/6/20: And then, the bottom fought back…

Yesterday’s expedition was dedicated to nymphing the lower River. The action was spotty to say the least: six marks visited, three of them total blanks. But…we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, be advised that Monday is the new Saturday on the Farmington. I’ve never seen the river this crowded on a Monday this early in the season. There were anglers in four of the six pools I hit, sometimes three or more. If you value solitude, gird your loins.

The method was drop shot nymphing, about 25% tight line and 75% indicator. I fished a size 18 soft-hackled pheasant tail on top dropper, and a Frenchie variant on point. I took trout on both flies.

It’s semi-sweet to say that you may have already landed your biggest trout of the season, but it is what is. I was nymphing a deeper run when the indicator dipped and I set the hook. The emotional and logical thought protocols immediately kicked into gear: “Is that the bottom? No, it is not, I can feel a head shake. Let me re-set the hook. OK, that’s a decent fish. Wow, that’s a strong fish. Shoot, he’s sulking on the bottom. Gotta keep him away from that submerged boulder. Gotta move him. I’ll do that steelhead side-to-side rod arc thing. Gotta get him out of the current so he can’t breathe. That frog water looks like a good LZ.”

And then, as you get your first visual, you wish for a bigger net. But you’ve whipped the fish fast (remembering the sage advice of Stu Apte: “To play him long is to play him wrong.”) and now the moment of glory is at hand. Swing and a miss. Again…yessir. Wow!

Hunk-a hunk-a burning Survivor Strain love. Wotta tummy! Wotta tail! And shoulders that simply aren’t done justice by this photo. Easily over 20″, but this is a fish that should be measured in pounds. 

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A trout like that called for a celebration. So I fired up a Rocky Patel The Edge torpedo and did just that.

 

 

Three Great Early-Season Nymphs for Trout

What are the best nymphs for early-season trout? It’s hard to say. “Best,” after all, is not an absolute like the firmness of the earth or the sun rising in the east. But if you asked me make a choice, I’d tell you you could do a lot worse than these three proven nymph patterns — and the trout would agree.

Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail. Size it up, size it down, the pheasant tail remains a classic because it looks like so many things that trout like to eat. I love this version for its buggy peacock herl thorax and so-many-quivering-sexy-legs of a soft hackle. For recipe and tying video, click here.

SHBHPT

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Frenchie Nymph Variant. The same fly as above — but different! We’ve traded the wiggly legs for a flashy hot spot. The result is a slimmer profile with different bite triggers that keeps this a high-confidence early-season nymph. What makes it variant? Unlike Lance Egan’s original, this has a brass bead, not tungsten, and it’s tied on a scud hook. (Since I don’t Euro-nymph, I rarely use tungsten beads in my nymphs.) For recipe and tying video, click here.

FrenchieVariant

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Rainbow Warrior Variant. Another Lance Egan creation, this version uses a brass bead instead of tungsten (see Frenchie, above) and omits the mylar wing case. The Rainbow Warrior takes the flashy attractor nymph to a whole new level.  Good stuff!

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Hook: TMC 2457 size 12-22
Bead: Silver, to size
Thread: Red 6/0 or 8/0
Tail: 5-6 pheasant tail fibers fibers
Body: UTC Pearl mylar, 3/64″
Thorax: Rainbow Sow Scud dubbing

Fly fishing guide trips on hold — resuming when?

As you’re probably aware, all fly fishing guide trips or lessons are on hold. I know that many of you reached out to me this winter to book a trip/lesson, and I asked you to touch base in early April. And here we are. It’s’ a bad situation for everyone.

First, it goes without saying that I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. If you’re managing to get out and go fishing, that’s even better. So, when can we resume normal relations?

I’ll be following the best practice guidelines put forth by those who know far more about pandemics than me. When they give us the green light, I’ll make a post here on currentseams. A reminder that my schedule will likely not change: weekends will out, so week days it shall have to be.

Thanks to all of you who continue to read and follow currentseams. Keeping with the guiding theme, here are a few memorable guide trips from the archives:

Greg hit it just right. We fished wet flies in mid-June from 3pm-7pm. With some strong caddis and sulphur hatches to goose the trout along, Greg had a banner day. It’s hard to beat wet flies pre- and during the hatch.

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July. Slow action. One of those warm, humid days that starts the Farmington River fog machine. The air over the water was cool and damp, and Mark and I were shivering in our shirtsleeves. I volunteered to fetch our jackets, and said to Mark as I left, “When I come back, I want to see your rod bent over.” This is the sight I was greeted by as I came back through the woods. All of my stories are true, and some of them actually happened. Like this one. 

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I love teaching, but I can’t control what Mother Nature is going to throw at us on any given day. So I was delighted to have her cooperate for this early May wet fly class. The trout were most agreeable, too. Ihor’s here with a gorgeous wild brown.

DCIM100GOPROG0034989.

 

 

A Modest Proposal: Catch Fewer Small Stripers This Year

It’s no secret that our precious striper stocks are stressed. New regs are going into effect (check your state for specifics) that every striper angler should know about. But this year, I’m creating my own reg.

It starts with a question: Do I really need to catch 50 small bass at the mouth of the Hous? Do I really need to catch 20 sixteen-inchers in June during the grass shrimp hatch, or on a flat on the Cape during a sand eel blitz? The answer is no.

I’m asking you to join me. When it becomes clear that it’s a small bass on just about every cast, I’m going to reel up and stop fishing. So yes, let’s still fish. Yes, let’s still have fun. But let’s also give the bass a break. Catching another dozen dinks won’t make you a hero. Walking away will.

Sure, they’re fun. But they’re also ridiculously easy to catch. These bass are the future of the fishery. So please consider giving them a break. And while you’re at it, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ASGA. This group is gaining traction, and is beginning to have a real, quantifiable effect on the state of the fishery. Thank you.

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Leisenring’s favorite soft-hackled nymphs, in list form with photos

Last month I published a short feature series on James Leisenring’s favorite soft-hackled nymphs. Leisenring first listed these patterns in his 1941 book, “The Art of Tying The Wet Fly.” Here’s a single reference list of the seven nymphs, a photo of each pattern, and a link to the original post with my comments and tying instructions.

Heed the sage advice of Big Jim: “Now, in nymph fishing your hook must be exceedingly sharp…more fish are lost because of dull, cheap hooks than all other causes combined…” — James Leisenring

Tups Nymph (nymph version)

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March Brown Nymph

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Half-Stone Nymph

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Dark Olive Nymph

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Pale Watery Nymph

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Pale Watery Nymph (light-colored dun version)

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July Dun Nymph

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Tie and fish these soft-hackled nymphs with confidence, just as James Leisenring did nearly one hundred years ago.

 

 

 

 

Striper Report 3/30/20: doubleheader skunking

Not satisfied with yesterday’s Farmington River streamer spanking, I ventured out last night with old friend Bob for some more piscatorial abuse. We fished the Hous from 9pm to nearly midnight. Our reward was…bupkiss. Well, not exactly. Bob managed one tap on his plug (spinning for Bob, fly for me). On the plus side, I reacquainted myself with my two-handed cannon — the rust factor was minimal, and it felt good to bomb out 90 foot casts with little effort. Oh! I also managed to wade through the deepest hole I’ve ever ventured into without breaching my waders. So I suppose dry and skunked beats soaked and skunked. We’ll go with that.

Not from last night. But I did fish a Rock Island flatwing (eaten below), a high confidence herring pattern I developed many years ago. You can read about the Rock Island flatwing here.

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